The Need For A Shift In Candidate Experience – Ben Eubanks [Interview]
Ben Eubanks is the founder of UpstartHR and works as a principal analyst. He is well known for his blog which has over 1,000,000 readers. A passionate HR enthusiast, author of the book AI and HR, he has made a mark with keynote addresses, blogs, podcasts
About Ben Eubanks
Ben Eubanks is the founder of UpstartHR and works as a principal analyst. He is well known for his blog which has over 1,000,000 readers. A passionate HR enthusiast, author of the book AI and HR, he has made a mark with keynote addresses, blogs, podcasts, etc. He is the co-founder of the HR revolution movement. Ben Eubanks is here to share with our viewers insights from his very own experiences as someone who has tried his hands on all aspects of HR.
We have the pleasure of welcoming Ben today to our interview series. I’m Aishwarya Jain from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick intro of peopleHum. peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work with AI and automation technologies. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors and publishes around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.
Awesome, Thank you. Glad to be here.
Awesome. So, Ben, let me start with the first question. Could you quickly tell us a little about UpstartHR? We’d like to know more about the journey that actually brought you into it.
Absolutely. So, UpstartHR is a community that I’ve been running for over 10 years now. It seems like it was just yesterday that I started writing the first piece there. It was started because when I was getting into HR all those years ago, I just got my degree and I thought, I know what I need to know to be successful in this job. And the more I started to read and learn, the more I realized that I had no clue.
So in my first HR job, I actually started writing about the things I was learning. Sharing those with the modern world, trying to help everyone coming after me to understand some of those things and a lot of things that were kind of career-oriented things about how to get certified, things like that, and it’s evolved over time because as my career has evolved, all the kind of things I’m interested in, the things that I focus on have changed.
And so it’s been fun to see that evolution over time. But the website itself has helped more than a million people, which is astounding to think. Answer their questions, figure out their career directions, things like that they’re trying to get in HR. And so it is one of the things I’m most thankful for and proud of the time that I spent working in around the space.
Wow, that is amazing. And now that you’re kind of working into such a people-centric field.
Do you believe in the trend of organizations moving from business centricity to employee centricity and people centricity and does your research point to confirmation in this trend?
Absolutely. So it’s always fun because Upstart is just kind of a side thing that I do! It’s been like the little side gig that I’ve always maintained for all the careers I have had, different roles, different jobs and today I actually run a research firm called ‘The Lighthouse research’ and we do research in different areas of Human capital management, understand what employers are thinking.
We also focus on the technologies to really figure out what capabilities the system has, what employers can get from them? Which ones they’re doing? What they’re doing? Things like that.
So it’s fun to see those two perspectives. Of the tech side, of people’s side, because there are times when I start to overlap a little bit and one of the areas is just focus on employee’s experience and candidate experience and trying to blend those things together and make that a priority.
I definitely agree with you. That is a big trend we seen in the last few years. For example, the Business Roundtable, which is a round table made of CEOs from these large corporations, last year changed their mission statement from ‘we are about profit’ to ‘we care about our community, our people, and supporting our stakeholders’ and our stakeholder can be wherever they operate, that community, the people around that, it could be the employees, that could be someone else.
But it’s not just about profit shareholder value they’re looking at ways to impact other stakeholders, support them in some way and so again, we see that in the technologies that we look at Lighthouse, talk to between 300 and 400 providers a year and understand what they’re doing, how they’re supporting people and the focus on creating experiences around employees that make them excited, that engage them, that make them want to bring their best at work.
That is a big, big shift that we’ve seen in thinking over the last few years, and it really mirrors the bigger focus on the marketing and sales side to focus on the customer experience. There are some companies we think of, natural to think of they treat their customers really well.
And those companies have realized, Wait a minute, we treat our customers well, we should be treating our people just as well, because it leads those same positive benefits, the positive outcomes. And so that’s that. It’s been fun to watch that evolution over time and to continue seeing new companies kind of realize the value of focusing on that experience and diving into both.
“We treat our customers well, we should be treating our people just as well, because it leads those same positive benefits, the positive outcomes. And so that’s that. It’s been fun to watch that evolution over time and to continue seeing new companies kind of realize the value of focusing on that experience and diving into both.”
Right. But what do you think has prompted this change? Because this wasn’t there decades back. What has suddenly become so important for people and why is there such a sudden shift into people centricity?
I think part of it again, it’s tied back to this idea that over the last maybe 10-15 years, we’ve seen a shift from, it’s about ‘marketing and selling and pushing a product to someone’ to ‘How can we create a customer journey or customer experience that really shows them we value them’ whether they work, whether they buy our product or service or not. Let’s treat them as well as we can through the process and help them feel better about themselves, better about their decisions, better about their life.
“It’s about ‘marketing and selling and pushing a product to someone’ to ‘How can we create a customer journey or customer experience that really shows them we value them’ whether they work, whether they buy our product or service or not. Let’s treat them as well as we can through the process and help them feel better about themselves, better about their decisions, better about their life.”
I think that the same sort of thinking bleeds over into how we treat our people, how should our candidates? Let’s focus on the candidate experience – it was kind of the first part of this, and then the employees’ experience came after that. But the candidate experience is about, let’s treat those candidates as well as we can because wait a minute, they might also want to apply for another future job with us. If they don’t get a role right now, they might be the second-best candidate. But if we don’t treat them well, they’re never gonna come back.
“Let’s treat those candidates as well as we can because wait a minute, they might also want to apply for another future job with us. If they don’t get a role right now, they might be the second-best candidate. But if we don’t treat them well, they’re never gonna come back.”
There’s actually a really amazing case study from Virgin Media, they’re a retail, they sell cell phones, mobile phones and things like that. And they realized that they were treating their candidates so poorly, they weren’t communicating well.
It was costing them millions of dollars every year because those candidates said this was such a bad experience in the hiring process that I will never shop at this organization again. And so the companies say we’ve gotta fix this, we’re gonna solve this problem and they revamp their process.
They improve their communications. They treated those silver medalists, the ones that were not the number one candidate, but the person who just had one thing that disqualified them from being the best person on the hiring slight. You won’t be able to hire those people in the future.
So they started treating them really well, really carefully. Communicating, over-communicating with them to make sure they felt in the loop about decisions so that even after that, even after those people said, I did not get a job there, I went to this extensive hiring process. I didn’t get a job. But I still feel good enough about that company. I’ve shopped there and I’ll recommend friends and family to go and shop there.
And now they credit that change in their hiring process with a $7 million revenue increase for the company, that’s an example of why this isn’t just a nice to have I think that if you treat people nicely, that’s a good thing. But you don’t have to. Now there’s really tangible value, especially for companies that have a lot of customer-facing type positions that create more opportunities for them to do that well
“I think that if you treat people nicely, that’s a good thing. But you don’t have to. Now there’s really tangible value, especially for companies that have a lot of customer-facing type positions that create more opportunities for them to do that well.“
And you know, like especially now with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, How do you think the scenario is going to change? And you know it’s gonna change the way we recruit, the way the workplace is, will there be some kind of emotional outbreak as well in workplaces? How do you think it’s all going to change?
So one of the things that have come to mind in the last few weeks, watching the evolution happen initially. It was, Oh no, everybody’s remote. What do we do? How would we survive this? You know, just getting people remote. Making sure they have the tools. The technology is supported to be able to do that.
And then now that it’s starting to settle into some semblance of normalcy here in the States, people are thinking differently like okay, now I’m working but I’m also quarantined. So you see the emotional piece, but I think it’s a very good part of the conversation.
So the idea that I have had over the last few days – I’m thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where we look at the different needs people have as humans, not just as workers but as humans and whether those levels are being satisfied at the most basic levels, it’s am I safe? Do I have food? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I healthy? Those were basic things.
What’s interesting is, before all this happened, if someone walked into the office at work, we assumed that they were healthy, that they were fit, that their children were safe and healthy. We made assumptions about them when they showed up in the office. We can’t make assumptions anymore because we don’t know, this is gonna kind of shakeup that way we think.
“What’s interesting is, before all this happened, if someone walked into the office at work, we assumed that they were healthy, that they were fit, that their children were safe and healthy. We made assumptions about them when they showed up in the office. We can’t make assumptions anymore because we don’t know, this is gonna kind of shakeup that way we think.“
So for the companies now, that are thinking about goodness like, here’s a crisis, How do I get through this? We will get through this. Absolutely. But my hope is on the backside. After all, this is done, on the other end of this, when things have kind of settled back into some semblance of normalcy that we don’t lose that flexibility, that grace that we’re extending to each other right now when we’re having to deal with children running around because they’re not in school like those things that right now seems like chaos and craziness, hoping that we continue to extend grace to people even beyond when things go back to normal.
Because we realized that at the end of the day, we’re all human beings. We all have a family, and we can’t assume that someone showing up at work cuts all those ties and leaves those behind and forgets about all that and just focuses on their job.
Absolutely. I think right now when you’re in the situation and we’re working promoting and having home into our workplaces, so you’re in a very personal space. But then you are also working so yeah, it’s just like it’s a very different experience with leaders, especially for employees as well, because we’ve never been in such a unique situation before, and that changes a lot of equations.
And, typically even with Tech, right, the way we’re using tech, the way we used it in the workplace is very different from the way we use it while working from home. So what is that tech aspect that needs to change? How has that changed?
So that it’s been interesting to watch technology decide this conversation because we try to cover the vendor landscape to a degree we can’t.
There’s so many out there, but one of the things that we’ve seen is that a lot of them are saying, ‘Hey, right now, we’re willing to, we’re going to provide information to support. Try to help people as we’re going through this’ because they realize that this is not something that’s happening here, that you can’t just sit back and watch passively and hope that it’s eventually going to recover and think we’ll come back.
What’s been fun for me is to watch all of these people, all these companies come in whether they’re a technology company or just a consumer private company or public company that wants to just help.
I was reading this morning about these different firms that are not majorly in the technology space, something like Nestle. They’re offering logistics support to the Red Cross to help them get supplies they need to get.
GM has cut worker pay, has got some of their executive salaries aboard their board compensation and things like that so that people are able to survive, they’re able to sustain themselves on whatever income they continue to pay them while they’re not working, if they’re not able to go to jobs, other kinds of paying include hazard pay that still has to do front line work and really retail sort of organizations, things like that.
They’re paying them hazard pay right now because it is more dangerous for them. So all of these companies whether they’re in the HR technology world, they’re supporting employers in their respective ways. Or outside of that, they’re focusing on the human aspect. How can we help? We all have something to pitch in.
We all have something we could do. Last week, my own company, UpstartHR said – you know what? There are a lot of people seeing HR, friends, and contacts that were saying, Hey, I just got laid off. I got fired from my job. It’s gone. What do I do now? And so I kept seeing those and thought what can we do to help?
So we put out a note saying – We’re gonna give away $1000 worth of study materials, people that want to prepare for the HR professional exam, and then a few hours it was gone. Okay, $2000, a few hours later that was gone. Said, okay, $3000 kept trying to do this. And there was even more demand than we could meet in that sort of circumstance.
So it’s everybody I would challenge to think about right now how they can help others, how they could support others. What things do you have? Is it the skill that you can offer? Whatever it is, to try to make the world a better place.
“So it’s everybody I would challenge to think about right now how they can help others, how they could support others. What things do you have? Is it the skill that you can offer? Whatever it is, to try to make the world a better place.”
Because we’ve seen all the negative things, being rude and aggressive. Right now, there’s no need for that. We are all in this together. And if we can bring out those better qualities, we’ll look back on this with a different kind of perspective, I think.
Right. I think a lot of people are also talking about being in this together and actually fighting this and coming out of this as, strong people, and this will only make us stronger. The next time that we face this, hopefully not. But if we do, then I think we will be better ready for whatever it is.
And you’re right, it’s Maslow’s Hierarchy. If you see the stages of it, we’ve conquered the first few stages already. Now it’s about self-esteem and self-actualization. And this is the kind of time that you can actually do that and look at everything in perspective and actually come up with solutions and help people and really, really connect with each other on a very different personal level.
And that makes a lot of sense and talking about laying off right? There are a lot of layoffs happening. So how do you think this makes a wave in an HR person’s life? I know you told me a lot about, measuring results rather than anything else in going by measurable results, so how do we kind of cope with this? You know, the laying off part of it, the human experience part of it plus the results that we get out of this.
So what are you hearing from people around you? What are the challenges that people are facing and how are they’re trying to actually cope with that? I think that would be very helpful to our viewers as well.
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